A freelance San Francisco journalist, who is refusing to turn over a video he shot of a police car being torched by anarchist protesters, was granted a reprieve from jail at a hearing Thursday. According to the Chronicle, U.S. District Judge William Alsup (left) asked prosecutors to consider granting the journalist, Josh Wolf (right), immunity as a way of inducing him to give the tapes to the grand jury. Wolf, 24, sold some of the video he shot in July 2005 to local TV stations, but is refusing to provide the entire tape, claiming a journalist has a right to withhold unpublished material from the government. California law recognizes that right, but not federal law, which prevails in federal court. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Finigan said Wolf might fear that he would be accused of aiding lawbreakers at the protest by encouraging them. Wolf was a protester at previous anarchist demonstrations but was acting as an independent journalist the day he shot the police car video, according to an April 19, 2006 SF Weekly story. It’s not known whether Wolf would accept an immunity offer. The next hearing is set for Aug. 1. The grand jury in this case is looking into demonstrations organized by anarchists against the Group of Eight international conference, which was taking place in Scotland at the time.
Journalist avoids jail, at least temporarily
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